Archive for July 13th, 2019

The Mueller Report: I read it for you, but you should read it for yourself. pt. 9

July 13, 2019

The President’s Conduct Involving Michael Cohen

            We’ve seen multiple instances of likely obstruction of justice stem from the series of questionable choices beginning with Mr. Trump’s attempts to get Flynn off, and subsequently to cover this up. Michael Cohen had nothing to do with these events. Instead, he handled other activities Mr. Trump wanted hidden from the American people: specifically, two of his adulterous affairs and his extensive business dealings with Vladimir Putin. Of these, the payoffs to former Trump mistresses was of little concern to Mueller; his mandate was to investigate Russian efforts to subvert the American elections and to follow up on any criminal activities related to this. The investigation of violations of U.S. election law relating strictly to domestic affairs 😉 was handed off to other investigators; its only interest to Mueller was whether aspects of the cover-up of Trump’s adulteries played a part in efforts to prevent Cohen from testifying truthfully on other matters. Trump and his attorneys continued to express support and “love” for Cohen, contingent on him agreeing to “stay strong” and not “flip.” His legal bills were being paid by the Trump Organization, and he needed to “stay on message” and in Trump’s good graces for that to continue. Cohen has also testified that the possibility of a presidential pardon was raised in his discussions with Trump’s lawyers. Thus, the situation surrounding the payoffs to silence Trump mistresses left Cohen more inclined to testify as Trump wanted in other matters as well, regardless of the truth.

Much more significant are Cohen’s efforts to help cover up Mr. Trump’s extensive business dealings with Russia and with Putin himself. In this regard, there are several factors to consider, some favorable for Mr. Trump and some damning.

First, the deal to build a Trump Tower in Moscow was a long-time project, going back at least as far as 2015. The plan was for a Russian corporation to build the tower and license the Trump name. Cohen discussed the plan multiple times with Donald Trump, his son Donald Jr. and his daughter Ivanka. Given that the Trump Organization was primarily a real estate business and that licensing the Trump name was a major part of their business, there was nothing unusual about this at the time. Had the plan been carried out, it would have been a billion-dollar deal for the Trump Organization, with little risk or investment on their part since all they were really doing is selling their name.   A preliminary agreement was reached in Fall 2015, and Cohen even discussed Trump possibly flying to Moscow to seal the deal. Therefore, much of this started before Mr. Trump became a serious presidential contender, when he was still primarily a private businessman pursuing his private business. However, Trump was actively involved in negotiations for this deal long after he became the presumptive Republican nominee.

Second, despite Cohen’s efforts and several phone calls between the Trump Organization and Moscow including a twenty-minute conversation between Cohen and a Kremlin staffer, the deal eventually fell apart in the summer of 2016. This is significant for three reasons. First, the fact that the deal fell apart apparently left the Trump family and Organization feeling justified in covering up the true facts about it. After all, it never actually happened, so what difference does it make? Second, however, Trump, Cohen and others did lie about this. Rather than admit that he had a billion-dollar business deal he was working on after becoming the presumptive nominee of the Republican party for the presidency, Trump and his people developed a “party line,” a false narrative stating that it was never a very big deal and it was all over in January, before it was clear that Mr. Trump would in fact be the Republican candidate for President. By minimizing both the scope of the deal and how long and how deeply Mr. Trump had been engaged in the negotiations, the party line argued that it could have had no significant influence on Mr. Trump’s stance towards Russia and could give Russia no leverage to use over Trump. In fact, it was a potentially very lucrative deal, and Trump was kept well informed of its progress throughout the process until Cohen finally told him in the summer that it had fallen through. This was already after Trump had publicly stated that the deal had ended months earlier; still, he expressed disappointment to hear that the negotiations were at an end.

Third, while not directly stated, we should remember that the Russians themselves knew all about the Moscow Tower plans and that Mr. Trump was lying. Therefore they had leverage they could use at any time; by revealing this information or leaking documents about it, they could embarrass Mr. Trump and possibly undermine his hold on power. So instead of having the possibility of profits to offer him, they had the possibility of blackmail to threaten him with. The fact that he had lied about his business dealings with a hostile and corrupt foreign government thus represents a grave security risk for the United States.

Initially, Michael Cohen resolved to adhere to the “party line” regarding Trump’s Russian business dealings, and to “stay on message” even when he knew the statements he and other members of the Trump Organization (including Trump and his family) were false. Initially, this involved lying to the press and the American people, which is not necessarily a crime; it may seem slimy if you’re inclined to take offense, but that doesn’t make it illegal. However, in May 2017 Congress started looking into Trump’s Russian connections, and this eventually led to Cohen repeating this false “party line” under oath to Congress and later to the FBI. During this time his attorney and Trump’s had a Joint Defense Agreement, and he and his attorney were in constant communication with Trump and his legal team. They helped him prepare his testimony, which included false statements. It is unclear whether the Trump legal team knew they were false; Trump and his family certainly did unless they forgot about a billion-dollar deal they’d been working on for over a year and which had only recently collapsed. Cohen, Trump’s legal team and his family continued to push this false narrative for months after the press began uncovering and publishing more accurate information. It was around this time that Cohen’s troubles with the hush-money payments for Trump mistresses broke, and his need for Trump financial and legal support grew. The Trump Organization continued paying Cohen’s legal fees, his attorney and Trump’s continued working together, and Trump made multiple public statements supporting Cohen as well as sending private messages about how much he “loved” him. Some of these statements included the possibility of a pardon somewhere down the road—IF he remained loyal, didn’t “flip” or “go rouge,” or say anything that contradicted Mr. Trump or cast him in a bad light.

On July 2, 2018, the press reported that Cohen was considering cooperating with investigators even if it put Mr. Trump in legal jeopardy. At this point, Cohen’s office had already been raided by the FBI and evidence (including audio recordings) had been uncovered that he had perjured himself on Trump’s behalf and with Trump’s knowledge during the investigation into the hush-money payments. Faced with irrefutable evidence of his own words on tape discussing the payments with Trump, Cohen negotiated a deal with prosecutors in the Southern District of New York, wherein he pled guilty to eight felonies and agreed to cooperate in further investigations. After that Trump became increasingly hostile. He made public statements that included personal attacks on Cohen and on his family, veiled threats of prosecution on unrelated charges, and continued complaints of “WITCH HUNT” and so on. In the meantime, in written responses to questions from the Special Counsel about Cohen’s testimony regarding the Moscow Tower deal and hush-money payments, Trump claimed to have little memory of the events. Trump refused to answer questions directly. However, Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani made public statements that supported Cohen’s version of events and undermined Trump’s, including claiming at the time that Mr. Trump remembered discussing the Moscow Tower months later than he had publicly admitted.

In analyzing Trump’s conduct towards Cohen, Mueller considers the following issues:

  1. Obstructive Act: There are two possibilities here. First, did Trump or others working on his behalf work with Cohen to commit perjury? What the report determines is that:
  2. Michael Cohen did indeed perjure himself, and Mr. Trump knew ahead of time that he intended to “stay on message” and said nothing to him to dissuade him, or to anyone else from making statements Trump knew to be false.
  3. Cohen’s perjury was part of the “party line” he, Trump and Trump’s inner circle had worked on together, in order to obscure Trump’s financial ties to Putin and to Russia.
  4. Cohen and Trump did not directly say, “I intend to lie,” or “Yes, you should lie,” or anything like that. Cohen said he intended to testify before Congress in a way consistent with the statements Trump had made publicly, which were false, so he assumed Trump knew he intended to lie and approved; but no words to that effect were exchanged.
  5. While Cohen said to the President’s counsel that there was more to the Russia deal than he was telling, and Trump’s counsel directed him not to discuss these facts or contradict the President, there is no solid evidence that the President’s counsel knew any details about the Moscow Tower negotiations and specifically there is no evidence that he knew that Trump had lied about it and that directing Cohen not to contradict Trump was tantamount to telling him to commit perjury. The counsel has declined to answer questions about this, citing attorney-client privilege.
  6. Therefore, the report concludes that there is no way, with the evidence the Special Counsel’s office had at that time, to determine whether the President of the United States suborned perjury, or simply passively allowed it and went along after the fact.

Secondly, there is the wider question whether Mr. Trump’s actions would have had the “natural tendency” to prevent Michael Cohen from providing truthful testimony to Congress or to criminal investigators. In the early stages of the investigation, Trump urged Cohen not to “flip,” and the President*’s counsel told him he’d be protected so long as he worked with Trump. Trump publicly praised Cohen and his family, and privately sent him messages such as “the boss loves you.” He thanked Cohen for lying to the media about the hush money payments for his mistresses. And in addition to all the verbal support, there was the financial support the Trump Organization provided Cohen.

Later, when Cohen began cooperating with authorities and negotiating a plea deal, Trump began making public and private attacks on Cohen and on his family. Given the President’s role as head of the Executive branch of the U.S. government, publicly claiming that Cohen’s family should be investigated is more than an idle suggestion; it is close to a threat, since Trump actually has the ability to push to make such an investigation happen. The report diplomatically states: “The evidence concerning this sequence of events could support an inference that the President used inducements in the form of positive messages in an effort to get Cohen not to cooperate, and then turned to attacks and intimidation to deter the provision of information or undermine Cohen’s credibility once Cohen began cooperating.” So while the report is more or less neutral on the question of whether Mr. Trump directed his former “fixer” to commit perjury, it is more certain that he attempted to stop Cohen from providing truthful information to Congress or to law enforcement.

  1. Nexus to an official proceeding: As Trump admitted in his public statements, he was aware that Cohen was being investigated by Congress, the Special Counsel’s Office, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York. He also made multiple public statements acknowledging that Cohen could cooperate with any or all of these and urging him not to, then called him a “rat” when he did.
  2. Intent: Again couching his terms as diplomatically as possible, Mueller writes: “…there is evidence that could support the inference that the President intended to discourage Cohen from cooperating with the government because Cohen’s information would shed adverse light on the President’s campaign-period conduct and statements.” The evidence of this intention include the fact that Cohen made false statements under oath to help Mr. Trump, repeating false statements Trump himself had made, and that Trump knew these statements were false; this means Cohen could reveal him as a liar, and possibly a Russian puppet who had financial strings reaching all the way back to Putin himself. Trump refused to answer questions directly about the Moscow Tower deal, and his written responses to the Special Counsel are inconsistent with statements he made publicly afterwards. And most damning, Trump’s attacks on Cohen’s family have no other reasonable intention except to retaliate against Michael Cohen and to scare him off from further testimony. After all, prior to Cohen’s decision to cooperate with the FBI, Trump knew all about his family and had praised them publicly. After Cohen began cooperating with investigators, Trump began the public attacks on him and his family. He also continued these attacks and repeated them just before Cohen was scheduled to testify before Congress. This timing is suspicious; if he were merely concerned with raising a legitimate concern about possible illegal actions he could have more effectively raised his concerns directly with Attorney General Sessions, and if he were merely trying to influence public opinion then there was no reason to bring the issue up again right before Cohen was due to testify.

At best, then, the President of the United States connived in perjury; he knew Cohen had committed perjury not for his own benefit but solely for Mr. Trump’s, and he thanked him for it. At worst, he actively conspired in perjury. The Special Counsel’s report does not seem to suggest a way to resolve this question. As to whether Trump engaged in “witness tampering,” the Report presents extensive evidence that Mr. Trump was deeply concerned with what Cohen was telling investigators and how it might make Trump personally and the Trump Organization look. His words and actions seem much more likely than not to be intended not merely to “shape the narrative” but primarily to pressure a witness to lie on his behalf. At a bare minimum, given the timing of his events and how much more suspicious they seem as a result, they reflect monumentally bad judgment. So at best, the Special Counsel’s report would have to conclude that regardless of whether there was actual criminal activity, there was incompetence and stupidity that led Mr. Trump to make himself look as guilty as possible of intending to obstruct justice, as well as a severely flawed moral character that was willing to go along with perjury just to avoid embarrassment. Such intellectual and moral deficiencies of themselves are disqualifying for the highest office of the most powerful nation on Earth.

But again, that’s only if one takes what I think to be an overly generous view of the facts. If one takes the more likely view, this is another instance of obstruction of justice; in this case, an attempt to first encourage perjury, then to discourage truthful testimony. It is not just a matter of Cohen and Trump having different stories; Cohen, in many cases, has the receipts to back up his version of events, objective evidence, and has spoken personally and under oath to investigators for many hours. Mr. Trump has avoided testimony under oath, and his written responses to questions have been incomplete and inconsistent. Given a conflict between witnesses, the only logical option is to accept the word of the one who has supporting evidence and is willing to answer follow-up questions and cross-examination. But we will only fully resolve these questions if and when Mr. Trump himself testifies in person and under oath, with whatever objective evidence and witnesses he can muster, in either and impeachment inquiry or a criminal trial, where he can present his defense and be examined to determine the truth.

The President’s Conduct Involving Michael Cohen

We’ve seen multiple instances of arguable obstruction of justice stem from the series of questionable choices beginning with Mr. Trump’s attempts to get Flynn off, and subsequently to cover this up. Michael Cohen had nothing to do with these events. Instead, he handled other activities Mr. Trump wanted hidden from the American people: specifically, two of his adulterous affairs and his extensive business dealings with Vladimir Putin. Of these, the payoffs to former Trump mistresses was of little concern to Mueller; his mandate was to investigate Russian efforts to subvert the American elections and to follow up on any criminal activities related to this. The investigation of violations of U.S. election law relating strictly to domestic affairs 😉 was handed off to other investigators; its only interest to Mueller was whether aspects of the cover-up of Trump’s adulteries played a part in efforts to prevent Cohen from testifying truthfully on other matters. Trump and his attorneys continued to express support and “love” for Cohen, contingent on him agreeing to “stay strong” and not “flip.” His legal bills were being paid by the Trump Organization, and he needed to “stay on message” and in Trump’s good graces for that to continue. Cohen has also testified that the possibility of a presidential pardon was raised in his discussions with Trump’s lawyers. Thus, the situation surrounding the payoffs to silence Trump mistresses left Cohen more inclined to testify as Trump wanted in other matters as well, regardless of the truth.

Much more significant are Cohen’s efforts to help cover up Mr. Trump’s extensive business dealings with Russia and with Putin himself. In this regard, there are several factors to consider, some favorable for Mr. Trump and some damning.

First, the deal to build a Trump Tower in Moscow was a long-time project, going back at least as far as 2015. The plan was for a Russian corporation to build the tower and license the Trump name. Cohen discussed the plan multiple times with Donald Trump, his son Donald Jr. and his daughter Ivanka. Given that the Trump Organization was primarily a real estate business and that licensing the Trump name was a major part of their business, there was nothing unusual about this at the time. Had the plan been carried out, it would have been a billion-dollar deal for the Trump Organization, with little risk or investment on their part since all they were really doing is selling their name.   A preliminary agreement was reached in Fall 2015, and Cohen even discussed Trump possibly flying to Moscow to seal the deal. Therefore, much of this started before Mr. Trump became a serious presidential contender, when he was still primarily a private businessman pursuing his private business. However, Trump was actively involved in negotiations for this deal long after he became the presumptive Republican nominee.

Second, despite Cohen’s efforts and several phone calls between the Trump Organization and Moscow including a twenty-minute conversation between Cohen and a Kremlin staffer, the deal eventually fell apart in the summer of 2016. This is significant for three reasons. First, the fact that the deal fell apart apparently left the Trump family and Organization feeling justified in covering up the true facts about it. After all, it never actually happened, so what difference does it make? Second, however, Trump, Cohen and others did lie about this. Rather than admit that he had a billion-dollar business deal he was working on after becoming the presumptive nominee of the Republican party for the presidency, Trump and his people developed a “party line,” a false narrative stating that it was never a very big deal and it was all over in January, before it was clear that Mr. Trump would in fact be the Republican candidate for President. By minimizing both the scope of the deal and how long and how deeply Mr. Trump had been engaged in the negotiations, the party line argued that it could have had no significant influence on Mr. Trump’s stance towards Russia and could give Russia no leverage to use over Trump. In fact, it was a potentially very lucrative deal, and Trump was kept well informed of its progress throughout the process until Cohen finally told him in the summer that it had fallen through. This was already after Trump had publicly stated that the deal had ended months earlier; still, he expressed disappointment to hear that the negotiations were at an end.

Third, while not directly stated, we should remember that the Russians themselves knew all about the Moscow Tower plans and that Mr. Trump was lying. Therefore they had leverage they could use at any time; by revealing this information or leaking documents about it, they could embarrass Mr. Trump and possibly undermine his hold on power. So instead of having the possibility of profits to offer him, they had the possibility of blackmail to threaten him with. The fact that he had lied about his business dealings with a hostile and corrupt foreign government thus represents a grave security risk for the United States.

Initially, Michael Cohen resolved to adhere to the “party line” regarding Trump’s Russian business dealings, and to “stay on message” even when he knew the statements he and other members of the Trump Organization (including Trump and his family) were false. Initially, this involved lying to the press and the American people, which is not necessarily a crime; it may seem slimy if you’re inclined to take offense, but that doesn’t make it illegal. However, in May 2017 Congress started looking into Trump’s Russian connections, and this eventually led to Cohen repeating this false “party line” under oath to Congress and later to the FBI. During this time his attorney and Trump’s had a Joint Defense Agreement, and he and his attorney were in constant communication with Trump and his legal team. They helped him prepare his testimony, which included false statements. It is unclear whether the Trump legal team knew they were false; Trump and his family certainly did unless they forgot about a billion-dollar deal they’d been working on for over a year and which had only recently collapsed. Cohen, Trump’s legal team and his family continued to push this false narrative for months after the press began uncovering and publishing more accurate information. It was around this time that Cohen’s troubles with the hush-money payments for Trump mistresses broke, and his need for Trump financial and legal support grew. The Trump Organization continued paying Cohen’s legal fees, his attorney and Trump’s continued working together, and Trump made multiple public statements supporting Cohen as well as sending private messages about how much he “loved” him. Some of these statements included the possibility of a pardon somewhere down the road—IF he remained loyal, didn’t “flip” or “go rouge,” or say anything that contradicted Mr. Trump or cast him in a bad light.

On July 2, 2018, the press reported that Cohen was considering cooperating with investigators even if it put Mr. Trump in legal jeopardy. At this point, Cohen’s office had already been raided by the FBI and evidence (including audio recordings) had been uncovered that he had perjured himself on Trump’s behalf and with Trump’s knowledge during the investigation into the hush-money payments. Faced with irrefutable evidence of his own words on tape discussing the payments with Trump, Cohen negotiated a deal with prosecutors in the Southern District of New York, wherein he pled guilty to eight felonies and agreed to cooperate in further investigations. After that Trump became increasingly hostile. He made public statements that included personal attacks on Cohen and on his family, veiled threats of prosecution on unrelated charges, and continued complaints of “WITCH HUNT” and so on. In the meantime, in written responses to questions from the Special Counsel about Cohen’s testimony regarding the Moscow Tower deal and hush-money payments, Trump claimed to have little memory of the events. Trump refused to answer questions directly. However, Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani made public statements that supported Cohen’s version of events and undermined Trump’s, including claiming at the time that Mr. Trump remembered discussing the Moscow Tower months later than he had publicly admitted.

In analyzing Trump’s conduct towards Cohen, Mueller considers the following issues:

  1. Obstructive Act: There are two possibilities here. First, did Trump or others working on his behalf work with Cohen to commit perjury? What the report determines is that:
  2. Michael Cohen did indeed perjure himself, and Mr. Trump knew ahead of time that he intended to “stay on message” and said nothing to him to dissuade him, or to anyone else from making statements Trump knew to be false.
  3. Cohen’s perjury was part of the “party line” he, Trump and Trump’s inner circle had worked on together, in order to obscure Trump’s financial ties to Putin and to Russia.
  4. Cohen and Trump did not directly say, “I intend to lie,” or “Yes, you should lie,” or anything like that. Cohen said he intended to testify before Congress in a way consistent with the statements Trump had made publicly, which were false, so he assumed Trump knew he intended to lie and approved; but no words to that effect were exchanged.
  5. While Cohen said to the President’s counsel that there was more to the Russia deal than he was telling, and Trump’s counsel directed him not to discuss these facts or contradict the President, there is no solid evidence that the President’s counsel knew any details about the Moscow Tower negotiations and specifically there is no evidence that he knew that Trump had lied about it and that directing Cohen not to contradict Trump was tantamount to telling him to commit perjury. The counsel has declined to answer questions about this, citing attorney-client privilege.
  6. Therefore, the report concludes that there is no way, with the evidence the Special Counsel’s office had at that time, to determine whether the President of the United States suborned perjury, or simply passively allowed it and went along after the fact.

Secondly, there is the wider question whether Mr. Trump’s actions would have had the “natural tendency” to prevent Michael Cohen from providing truthful testimony to Congress or to criminal investigators. In the early stages of the investigation, Trump urged Cohen not to “flip,” and the President*’s counsel told him he’d be protected so long as he worked with Trump. Trump publicly praised Cohen and his family, and privately sent him messages such as “the boss loves you.” He thanked Cohen for lying to the media about the hush money payments for his mistresses. And in addition to all the verbal support, there was the financial support the Trump Organization provided Cohen.

Later, when Cohen began cooperating with authorities and negotiating a plea deal, Trump began making public and private attacks on Cohen and on his family. Given the President’s role as head of the Executive branch of the U.S. government, publicly claiming that Cohen’s family should be investigated is more than an idle suggestion; it is close to a threat, since Trump actually has the ability to push to make such an investigation happen. The report diplomatically states: “The evidence concerning this sequence of events could support an inference that the President used inducements in the form of positive messages in an effort to get Cohen not to cooperate, and then turned to attacks and intimidation to deter the provision of information or undermine Cohen’s credibility once Cohen began cooperating.” So while the report is more or less neutral on the question of whether Mr. Trump directed his former “fixer” to commit perjury, it is more certain that he attempted to stop Cohen from providing truthful information to Congress or to law enforcement.

  1. Nexus to an official proceeding: As Trump admitted in his public statements, he was aware that Cohen was being investigated by Congress, the Special Counsel’s Office, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York. He also made multiple public statements acknowledging that Cohen could cooperate with any or all of these and urging him not to, then called him a “rat” when he did.
  2. Intent: Again couching his terms as diplomatically as possible, Mueller writes: “…there is evidence that could support the inference that the President intended to discourage Cohen from cooperating with the government because Cohen’s information would shed adverse light on the President’s campaign-period conduct and statements.” The evidence of this intention include the fact that Cohen made false statements under oath to help Mr. Trump, repeating false statements Trump himself had made, and that Trump knew these statements were false; this means Cohen could reveal him as a liar, and possibly a Russian puppet who had financial strings reaching all the way back to Putin himself. Trump refused to answer questions directly about the Moscow Tower deal, and his written responses to the Special Counsel are inconsistent with statements he made publicly afterwards. And most damning, Trump’s attacks on Cohen’s family have no other reasonable intention except to retaliate against Michael Cohen and to scare him off from further testimony. After all, prior to Cohen’s decision to cooperate with the FBI, Trump knew all about his family and had praised them publicly. After Cohen began cooperating with investigators, Trump began the public attacks on him and his family. He also continued these attacks and repeated them just before Cohen was scheduled to testify before Congress. This timing is suspicious; if he were merely concerned with raising a legitimate concern about possible illegal actions he could have more effectively raised his concerns directly with Attorney General Sessions, and if he were merely trying to influence public opinion then there was no reason to bring the issue up again right before Cohen was due to testify.

At best, then, the President of the United States connived in perjury; he knew Cohen had committed perjury not for his own benefit but solely for Mr. Trump’s, and he thanked him for it. At worst, he actively conspired in perjury. The Special Counsel’s report does not seem to suggest a way to resolve this question. As to whether Trump engaged in “witness tampering,” the Report presents extensive evidence that Mr. Trump was deeply concerned with what Cohen was telling investigators and how it might make Trump personally and the Trump Organization look. His words and actions seem much more likely than not to be intended not merely to “shape the narrative” but primarily to pressure a witness to lie on his behalf. At a bare minimum, given the timing of his events and how much more suspicious they seem as a result, they reflect monumentally bad judgment. So at best, the Special Counsel’s report would have to conclude that regardless of whether there was actual criminal activity, there was incompetence and stupidity that led Mr. Trump to make himself look as guilty as possible of intending to obstruct justice, as well as a severely flawed moral character that was willing to go along with perjury just to avoid embarrassment. Such intellectual and moral deficiencies of themselves are disqualifying for the highest office of the most powerful nation on Earth.

But again, that’s only if one takes what I think to be an overly generous view of the facts. If one takes the more likely view, this is another instance of obstruction of justice; in this case, an attempt to first encourage perjury, then to discourage truthful testimony. It is not just a matter of Cohen and Trump having different stories; Cohen, in many cases, has the receipts to back up his version of events, objective evidence, and has spoken personally and under oath to investigators for many hours. Mr. Trump has avoided testimony under oath, and his written responses to questions have been incomplete and inconsistent. Given a conflict between witnesses, the only logical option is to accept the word of the one who has supporting evidence and is willing to answer follow-up questions and cross-examination. But we will only fully resolve these questions if and when Mr. Trump himself testifies in person and under oath, with whatever objective evidence and witnesses he can muster, in either and impeachment inquiry or a criminal trial, where he can present his defense and be examined to determine the truth.

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